San Juan County: Orcas Island
Orcas Island, known as the “Gem of the San Juans,” is the largest of the archipelago. It boasts the highest mountains on the islands, most of which are in Moran State Park; waterfalls, and numerous hamlets, with Eastsound the first stop for many tourists. You can choose to live close to a town or far off the beaten path. Homes facing west get the most spectacular sunset views, and many properties are shaded by the island’s abundant trees. Orcas Island is ideal for adventure seekers who relish outdoor activities on land and in water.
Plenty of people are out and about during the day on Orcas Island. Neighbors wave and offer a friendly honk along North Beach Road, Eastsound’s main stretch. Kelly Koral, a real estate broker who moved from California to Orcas Island about 30 years ago, enjoys the friendliness on the island. “It’s very supportive. People go out of their way to help other people,” she said.
Koral also likes the idea that even though the island is large, there’s a sense of having things within your reach, and notes that you “can be as busy as you want.” For example, you can go on a hike, then be back for lunch in town before spending the afternoon fishing or running errands. There are ongoing volunteer opportunities, hobby-centric clubs, and plenty of restaurants and local theater productions. It’s an island that truly celebrates living life to the fullest.
Orcas Island particularly attracts creatives and renowned chefs who want to work in an environment where the natural beauty and a celebration of life feeds their creativity. Yet even the most famous, accomplished individuals are treated just like anybody else. Celebrity sightings include actor Chris Pratt and his wife actress Anna Faris. Renowned chef Raymond Southern works at The Mansion in Rosario Resort, while Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders, cartoonist Gary Larson, and ski movie pioneer Warren Miller call the island home. Like a humble prize winner, Orcas Island offers locals and visitors a low-key atmosphere with notable surprises.
On the Market
227 Enchanted Forest Rd., Eastsound $480,000 | MLS# 1046642
This two-bedroom, 1.5-bath cozy home is a short walk from Eastsound, but its tree-lined property make it feel worlds away. Updates like granite countertops, a propane fireplace, and a walk-through master closet make it stylish and functional.
Year-Round Residents: 5,000
Average Days on Market: 256
Homes Currently on Market: 138
Schools: Orcas Island Elementary, Middle, and High School; Oasis Alternative School, Grades 7–12